How to reheat leftover fried chicken that brings back its amazing audible crunch?

No matter it is refrigerated or frozen if you know how to reheat leftover fried chicken without drying it out, it’ll be crispy, crunchy and delicious again as it was just after being fried in the Texas Chicken or KFC kitchen.

My grandmom prefers cold chicken fry over fresh one because her age took away all her teeth. But, I became surprised when I came to know that my brother’s fiancee also doesn’t like the amazing audible crunch that comes from biting the chicken wrapped with a crisp layer of crunchy flakes.

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I became surprised because there are several ways to reheat cold fried chicken and anyone can do it using a brown paper lunch bag and a simple oven that can be found in almost every kitchen. You can also reheat fried chicken using-

  • A microwave
  • A toaster oven
  • An air fryer &
  • A cast iron skillet

Anyway, my curiosity leads me to execute an investigation and finally the rat comes out from the bag. She’s just crazy about fried chicken, she’s so crazy about it that she buys big bowls whenever she visits KFC. But as a fitness enthusiast, she never eats more than two wings at a time and she also hates food waste.

So, she throws the leftover wings (she never buys the legs) into the freezer to enjoy it for the next 2 or 3 days. It’s a good habit. I also don’t like to waste any food. But the fact that makes her swallow cold chicken fries in her breakfast is that she doesn’t know how to bring back that sounding crunch.

How to reheat leftover fried chicken in your kitchen

You may love those cold wings for no reason. But, I whispered something in her ear and she replied that she tried to reheat those frozen chicken wings several times. Sometimes, it becomes soggy, sometimes it becomes dry and sometimes it becomes a bit scorched.

She’s right, it’ll become soggy if you wrap it with foil paper, it’ll lose it’s juicy flavor if you reheat it using a paper bag, it’ll burnt or unevenly baked if you don’t spread it evenly in your oven and the coating won’t be crunchy again if you reheat it using your microwave oven in a wrong manner. And of course, cold fried chickens are much more tastier than unevenly reheated meat.

However, she’s now my brother’s fiancee and she actually loves those appetizing sounds as much as I do. So I couldn’t resist myself from sharing these easy cooking hacks that’ll make every piece of leftover cold fried chicken taste as crispy, saporous and juicy as it was just after coming out of the deep fryer.

6 unbelievable ways to reheat leftover fried chicken

I won’t deny that there are some foods which miss out their original flavor and deliciousness after being reheated (french fries can be a good example) and today I also won’t give you any opportunity to ignore the fact that there must be some ways to reheat fried chicken which can recapture original taste and crispness.

You can reheat fried chicken using a brown lunch bag and a cookie sheet

paper lunchbag

It may make you laugh out loud that I’m asking you to reheat leftover chickens without using any air fryer or microwave, but it’ll just make you wow after having a try. No microwave, no deep fryer and even no smart fryer is needed to recapture the lost sounding crunch.

First of all, take out your leftover fried chicken pieces from the freezer or refrigerator, let them come down to room temperature and preheat your oven to 325°. Then place the chicken pieces evenly in a brown paper lunch bag ensuring that all the pieces are in a single layer.

Don’t mix breast and thigh with the wing and leg. You can use seperate bag. Now, gently fold the opening of your lunch bag and staple it, then place the bag on a cookie sheet. Put the sheet inside the oven and bake for 20 minutes if there’s wing and leg in the bag and 25 minutes if there’s breast or thigh.

Don’t worry about the lunch bag, it won’t catch on fire and also don’t over bake. Over baking will make the inside of the fried chicken dry. As you know, dried chicken never tastes good. Now open up the bag and enjoy the same taste.

You can use aluminium foil paper if there’s no lunch bag in your house. Wrap your cookie sheet with foil and arrange chickens nicely on it. There should be around one inch distance between two pieces. Then use another foil paper on top of the chicken pieces to cover them all. Now keep the cookie sheet inside the oven and follow the same procedure.

Note: Never use paper towels to wrap your cold fried chicken. Paper towels may catch on fire. And you may experience less crispness if you forget to let your cold chickens rest at room temperature for thirty minutes.

Reheat cold fried chicken in the microwave

Some think that microwave turns your cold fried chicken into a hot and soggy mess. But today I’ll show you how to bring back the same crispiness using a microwave. You’ve to be careful when using a microwave to reheat fried chicken.

First make sure all the chicken pieces are at normal temperature before you place them in the microwave. This will help reheat all the pieces evenly and resist the inside of your chicken from getting dry.

Place a paper towel on the plate and then arrange your chicken pieces nicely on the paper towel. Make sure all the pieces are in a single layer. Paper towel will soak up the extra moisture, so that chickens will not become soggy.

Remember that overheat will make them dry. So, set your microwave to 30 seconds and then switch on. After 30 seconds, check the fried chicken. It should be nice if the size is small. But, if it needs more heat then keep them inside for another 15 seconds.

Approximately 30 more seconds will be needed for a large sized thigh or breast. So, keep checking after every 15 seconds. Recapturing the lost crispiness is not so easy with a microwave. So, let’s see how we can do it with a toaster oven.

How to reheating fried chicken in a toaster oven

A toaster oven offers the easiest way to reheat fried chicken. Don’t forget to ensure the room temperature for all the chicken pieces and then follow these simple steps to make them crispy without drying them out.

  • Cover the plate with aluminum foil. (optional)
  • Preheat the toaster oven to 400°.
  • Take a baking/cookie sheet and cover it with a paper towel.
  • Arrange your leftover fried chicken in a single layer on the sheet.
  • Place the sheet inside your toaster and set it to one minute.
  • Switch on your toaster and check after one minute.
  • Switch on again and again until the chickens are just about lukewarm to touch.
  • Serve immediately.

Air fryer is also a good choice to reheat leftover fried chicken

You can also reheat leftover chickens in an air fryer. The process is even simpler  and easier. As usual, let the chicken pieces come to room temperature and by the time preheat your air fryer to 375°. Now, arrange the fried chicken evenly (don’t just pile up) in your fryer basket and cook it for about two minutes.

After two minutes, flipp all the pieces and cook for another two minutes. Flipping and arranging all the chickens in a single layer will ensure perfect cooking. Cooking maximum two pieces at a time is the best practice to bring back that audible crunch. Here’s exactly how you should do it-

You can even reheat fried chicken in a cast iron skillet

A cast iron skillet can help you reheat your cold fried chicken if there’s no air fryer, oven or microwave in your house. The interior of the chicken is already cooked and the performance of cast iron will give a decently crisp exterior. Wait a moment before firing up your stove. Wait until the chickens come down to normal temperature and then follow these steps-

  • Fill your skillet with frying oil.
  • Set your stove fire to medium-high and let the oil reach 300°.
  • Now gently place a piece of chicken into oil and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Flip the chicken and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Don’t crowd the skillet with too many pieces. (3 is enough)
  • Take out the chickens from the oil and set on a wire rack for 3 minutes.

Your leftover fried chickens are now ready to make that noise again. Though it’s crispy, you may feel a bit different taste as it’s double fried. Moreover, double frying will make them oilier than other reheating methods and it also takes a long time to season the chickens to room temperature which is a must to reheat them. So, you can follow this super fast reheating method if you don’t have enough time.

Super fast method to reheat cold fried chicken

This is obviously the fastest but not the best way to reheat fried chicken. You’ll need a conventional oven and a baking rack to enjoy this cooking hacks.

  • Preheat your oven to 350°.
  • Place the wire baking rack on top of your oven baking sheet.
  • Take out the frozen fried chickens and arrange evenly on the rack.
  • Spray PAM on the chicken and cook until the chickens become hot. (20 minutes)
  • Now turn your oven up to 400° and cook for more 10 – 15 minutes.

Note: You can follow this method if your fried chickens are not frozen. In that case, baking at 350° will take less time to reheat the chicken pieces. Reheating time also depends on the size of your fried chicken.

There is another way to reheat. All the above mentioned methods work only indoor. But, sometimes you may need to reheat your fried chicken outdoors. Last summer, I was on my camping tour. My husband cooked fried chicken. It was so tasty. So, he asked me to keep a few pieces for the next meal.

I wanted to surprise him the next morning. So, I was looking for a way to reheat those fried pieces and I followed this way-

I put a cast iron skillet on the portable stove and instead of filling the skillet with frying oil, I just placed a cookie sheet (it was a customized paper sheet) on the skillet and I placed those chickens on the sheet.

Then I switched on the stove and after a few minutes, I noticed that the skillet started smoking. I took out the skillet from the stove and touched the chickens to know how much hot they became.

I flipped all the pieces and baked them for a few more minutes following the same process. The end result was so amazing that my husband thought I fried another chicken. But, you shouldn’t try this method in your kitchen. It’ll make your kitchen full of smoke.

Final Thoughts

All the reheating methods require a long period of time. Seasoning the frozen or refrigerated fried chickens to room temperature is common to all reheating hacks. It’s okay if you want to reheat in the afternoon or after coming back from your college/job. Reheating fried chicken also requires your minute observation and among all the methods, reheating with air fryer is the fastest one.

But, only the first one can bring back the original taste and crispness with appetizing sound. Other methods are also effective though you may notice a bit difference in taste and crunch. So, there’s nothing wrong in serving cold chicken for breakfast.

No matter you eat cold fried chicken or reuse those pieces in other dishes, mastering how to reheat leftover fried chicken is literally one of the most exciting cooking hacks. And the best part of reheating fried chicken is that you can reheat with whatever you have in your kitchen.

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